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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 26th August 2020

Posted: 26th August 2020


Co-op Bank announces job losses and closures

Hundreds of jobs are to be lost at the Co-operative Bank, with 18 of its 68 branches to be permanently shut. Chief executive Andrew Bester commented: "We're not immune to the impact of recent events, with the historically low base rate affecting the income of all banks and a period of prolonged economic uncertainty ahead, which means it's important we reduce costs and have the right-sized operating model in place for the future.” Some 350 positions at the firm will be affected, with the lender also citing the move to online banking as a reason for its decision.

JPMorgan staff can work remotely going forward

JP Morgan has told staff in London and on Wall Street that they will be continuing to work remotely on a part-time basis. London-based Daniel Pinto, head of JP Morgan's investment banking arm, told CNBC that staff will in future cycle between office-based shifts and home working. More City firms are likely to follow suit, analysts predict, heightening fears for the prosperity of central London and Canary Wharf.


Letter: Private equity firms can help navigate the crisis

Michael Moore says in a letter to the FT that the private equity industry has a record of “careful stewardship and strong governance” and can help the economy recover from the pandemic.

AA shares stall over debt

Shares in AA slid after Jeffries advised that private equity suitors are unlikely to pay anything for the equity considering the £2.7bn of debt the company shoulders.


JPMorgan to pay hefty premium to fully own China funds venture

A statement from the Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange notes that JPMorgan Chase would have to pay Rmb7bn ($1bn) for the remaining 49% of China International Fund Management (CIFM).

ECB support wipes out stress over bank funding

Cheap loans supplied by the ECB have sent interbank interest rates in the euro area to an all-time low of minus 0.49% in recent days, in contrast to Euribor’s four-year high of minus 0.16% in April.


McLaren launches carbon chassis

McLaren will next year introduce a new carbon fibre chassis developed for its hybrid and electric supercars. CEO Mike Flewitt confirmed the introduction of the flexible, lightweight vehicle architecture would enable McLaren to transition to 100% electrified supercars.


Virgin Atlantic creditors vote in favour of rescue deal

Virgin Atlantic creditors have voted overwhelmingly to back a £1.2bn rescue deal after the airline was hammered by the coronavirus crisis. The deal involves a £400m cash injection including £200m from its main shareholder, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. The news comes as American Airlines announced 19,000 job cuts in October, when a federal support programme ends.

Wizz Air expansion plans revealed

Budget airline Wizz has announced plans to expand its operations at Gatwick airport, with proposals to develop a 20-plane base there revealed. CEO Jozsef Varadi said the base will open in October with one aircraft, but noted the carrier is hoping to employ as many as 800 people there eventually. Shares in Wizz Air were up 0.7% on the news.

Qantas slashes more jobs and sells pyjamas to survive COVID-19

Qantas has announced a range of cost-cutting measures including the outsourcing of 2,500 cleaning, baggage and ground handling jobs as it seeks to save A$100m ($71.7m) annually.


Irish builders suffer biggest ever crash

The Irish construction industry is likely to have suffered the biggest quarterly crash in activity on record as a result of coronavirus, with output falling by more than 30%, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry.


Ant Group planning $225bn dual float

Chinese payments company Ant Group earned Rmb18bn ($2.6bn) in 2019 net profit, according to documents submitted for an initial public offering that could raise $30bn. The firm is seeking to sell at least 10% of its shares in a dual Hong Kong and Shanghai offering, with some reports claiming that up to 15%, at a valuation of between $200bn to $300bn, could be sold. The group’s Alipay technology is used by over 700m people and 80m businesses in China every month.

Finablr accounts delayed as problems mount

Finablr, which earlier this year admitted it had discovered $1bn (£760m) of previously undisclosed debt, has announced that it will miss the deadline for filing its annual accounts. It stated: “The company is currently unable to adhere to this deadline and will provide an update on the anticipated publication date when it is able to do so.” Finablr’s former chief executive, Promoth Manghat, has been accused of being part of a group of executives and employees who forged documents and siphoned off funds from firms.

Money&Co posts losses for last financial year

Lending platform Money&Co lost £400,000 in the last financial year. Fund manager and founder Nicola Horlick remarked: “We would have made a profit but hardly anybody bought ISAs in the key March-April time. Literally, it was something like 5% of the business on 2019 levels.” She also predicted that government coronavirus lending schemes had made the situation riskier for firms, claiming most deserving businesses had already raised funds so that only the riskiest ones were still seeking loans.

More than £30m lost to pension fraud since 2017

Men in their 50s have been identified as the most likely victims of fraudsters who target people's long-term pension savings. More than £30m has been lost since 2017 to pension fraud, according to Action Fraud, as unauthorised "advisers" tout unrealistic investments. In response to the figures, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator have launched a campaign against scammers fronted by football commentator Clive Tyldesley, who will use a raft of football analogies to raise awareness among savers about how to avoid scams.

Travel insurance claims subject to extended delays

Despite guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority, designed to make it simpler for consumers to recover lost costs after cancellations, customers are waiting months to get travel insurance claims settled due to the pandemic. Research by Which? shows more than four in 10 insurance claims are currently due to COVID-19. A separate report form the Financial Ombudsman Service shows a quarter of the 3,500 complaints the body has received relating to the pandemic concern travel insurance claims which have been denied by the insurer.

FCA rapped over disclosure delays

Dame Elizabeth Gloster, who is leading the independent investigation into the London Capital & Finance (LCF) savings scandal, has criticised the Financial Conduct Authority for delays in producing documents related to the mini-bond scandal. In a letter to Dame Elizabeth, FCA chairman Charles Randell reiterated a previous apology for the delays. Meanwhile, a High Court judge has ruled that administrators can sue four directors connected to the scandal.

Assets in ESG exchange traded funds and products top $100bn

Research by consultancy ETFGI has found that global assets held in exchange traded funds and products invested according to good environmental, social and governance principles exceeded $100bn in July.


Napster acquired by London start-up

London-listed VR specialist start-up MelodyVR has made a $70m bid for music streaming platform Napster. MelodyVR chief executive Anthony Matchett commented: “MelodyVR’s acquisition of Napster will result in the development of the first ever music entertainment platform which combines immersive visual content and music streaming.... Our purchase of Napster, one of the music industry’s original disruptors, is born out of our wish to deliver the world’s foremost music experience, available seamlessly across audio and visual media and in turn presenting a truly next generation music service.”


Recruitment firms foresee fall in income

A survey by HSBC’s professional services team has found that 80% of recruitment firms expect a fall in full-year income in 2020/21 due to the coronavirus crisis. HSBC UK’s head of professional services Chloe Clift remarked: “Recruitment does tend to be a great barometer of what’s happening in the wider economy. It is not surprising they were hit hard very quickly.” She went on: “November and March and the furlough scheme coming to an end will be pinch points not just for recruitment but for the entire economy and it will be interesting to see how resilient those companies remain when they have to start bringing back workers and fronting that full cost themselves.”


Virus weighs on Scottish commercial property sales

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF)’s analysis of the latest commercial property statistics from Registers of Scotland has revealed that sales of £285m were recorded for the second quarter, down 43% on the first quarter and 54% on the year-earlier period.


Retail employment falls at sharpest rate in more than a decade

Retail employment fell at the fastest rate in more than a decade in the year to August as high street firms cut jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The CBI’s monthly distributive trades survey also showed an even sharper decline is anticipated in the 12 months to September. The decline was broad across sectors, with only grocers, furniture and carpets, non-store and “other” goods sales achieving growth. The balance of employers saying they would reduce their headcount was -20 in May before weakening to -45 in August and -52 for the three months to November.

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